Thursday, March 21, 2013

Canon's greatest tool against mirror-less cameras is misdirection

Canon is sucking wind right now.  They're in trouble from all sides and they know it.

Nikon rose from its coma years ago with the D300 and they haven't stopped.  Panasonic and Olympus have revived themselves through micro Four-Thirds, and Sony is finding a way through its name and the fixed semi-translucent mirror technology.

Canon's 6D is not really a match for Nikon's D600, but it's good for the Canon fanatic who has been thinking all this time that they needed a 135 format frame (full frame, inaccurate as it is as there are many full frame formats) camera body.  Nikon's advantage is DX mode, where you can use lenses specifically made for their smaller sensor camera bodies.  There is a change in the resolution, but it's sufficient, especially compared to not being able to use any lenses.  There seem to be other economizing tasks Canon has done to bring the 6D to its price point, and a lot of people will have to consider them thoroughly before buying.

Canon's EOS-M is a great attempt at a mirror-less camera body.  They should ask Sony how non-Sony users like their lack of lenses.  Of course, Canon has less to offer since they just started, but Sony has been at it almost as long as Panasonic and Olympus, with little to show in their lens selection.

Canon's new miniature dSLR  (100D/Rebel SL1) may keep some die-hard fanatics from leaving for mirror-less, but there have been plenty already who say the future in light and small equipment and jumped to micro Four-Thirds bodies.  Now that there is a good sensor in the Panasonic GH3 and Olympus E-M5, it makes it more difficult to claim a huge advantage for APS-C.  As with Pentax's recently-discontinued K-01 mirror-less camera, the bigger sensor requires bigger lenses.  If you have many lenses, the lightweight, small body might not be much of an advantage, if you can't find room for it in your bag.  Thinking further, given that it's about the size of the Olympus E-4x0 series and the Nikon D40, I wonder if it suffers from a small and dark viewfinder.  That put me off from keeping an E-4x0 series body with me when it could have been helpful.

Canon's 5DMkIII isn't even safe, due to Panasonic's GH3 and its video capabilities.  Besides that, Panasonic seems to be producing lens after lens directly targeting Canon's most popular.  The lenses aren't made of as much metal, so they probably aren't as durable, but when you're talking about being able to put them almost anywhere, light weight and a low price may put them in more places than you'd expect.  Panasonic is no stranger to professional video and having quite a few of Zeiss' compact prime lens range (professionally-priced) will make it easier for a small production company to use more portable gear and produce exquisite results.

We have yet to see a Canon 70D but the Nikon D7100 is out and it's quite capable with many components of the D300 inside the compact body derived from the D7000.

Like Microsoft is with operating systems, Canon isn't going away, but they could be minimized in just a few years if they can't recover now.  Unfortunately, they will probably have to lose money to keep their user base.  If they lose their fanatics, they may be in huge trouble.  When fanatics feel betrayed, they will pounce.

I wonder if we'll ever reach a point of a level-playing field, similar to that of the 1970s.  We've certainly turned a corner on pixel density and the need for huge numbers of pixels has gone, except for the high end professional.  It could be an interesting 5-10 years for Canon.  All they can truly do now is advertise to distract from the 800 pound elephant in the room.

Update 2014.11.14: They threw the EOS M against the wall and it didn't still until they reduced the price from US$800 to US$300.  They replaced it already but haven't sent it out of Japan.

For that matter, they only recently replaced the 7D model with a 7D Mk II.  Anything under US$3000 doesn't seem to matter much to them anyway.  They have to sell loads of accessories for those inexpensive models to make significant money on them.

They know that they need to fix things.  They've been flailing with their dSLRs that sell under US$3000.  Panasonic has been attacking the 5D Mk III quite well with the GH3 and the GH4.  Even if the still photographic component isn't nearly as good, the video is quite amazing.

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